President Obama has reached out to Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, and thanked him for giving quarterback Michael Vick a second chance in the NFL this year, according to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King.King tweeted last night that “Obama called Eagle owner Jeffrey Lurie to praise the Eagles for giving Vick a chance. Said too many prisoners never get fair 2d chance.”
In 2007, Vick, a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback famous for his rare combination of speed and arm strength, was sentenced to 23 months in prison for running a dog fighting ring and lying about it. He was released from federal custody in July 2009. The NFL suspended Vick in 2007, and before his release from prison he was cut by his original NFL team, the Atlanta Falcons. The Eagles surprised many by signing the then 29-year-old Vick in August 2009 to be their backup quarterback. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell then reinstated Vick into the league during the third week of the 2009 season. During his first appearance in an exhibition game, Vick was booed every time he stepped on to the field, according to ESPN.
The Eagles traded their previous starting quarterback, Donovan McNabb, in the offseason, and gave Vick a chance to lead their team this year. He has responded by throwing 20 touchdowns, running for 8 more, and leading the Eagles to a 10-4 record. It hasn’t all gone smoothly, however. A few weeks ago, Vick courted criticism by telling ESPN he’d like to own a dog again after his probation ends.
One interesting footnote: the lawyer appointed by the NFL in 2007 to lead their review into the charges against Vick was none other than Eric Holder, then a partner at Covington & Burling, the league’s outside counsel.
(h/t The Hill)
Late Update: White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton tells TPM in an email:
The President did place a call to Mr. Lurie to discuss plans for the use of alternative energy at Lincoln Financial Field, during which they spoke about that and other issues. He of course condemns the crimes that Michael Vick was convicted of but, as he’s said previously, he does think that individuals who have paid for their crimes should have an opportunity to contribute to society again.